Universal Access To All Knowledge
Home Donate | Store | Blog | FAQ | Jobs | Volunteer Positions | Contact | Bios | Forums | Projects | Terms, Privacy, & Copyright
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload

Reply to this post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Dec 1, 2010 3:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: St. Stephen?

I will never forget getting goose-bumps upon hearing the opening notes of St. Stephen at Madison Square Garden on 10/11/83, the only time that I saw the song performed live by the Grateful Dead. In retrospect, I think it was just as much from the crowd reaction as the thrill of actually hearing the song, which in this case came out of absolute nowhere. Although I do feel quite lucky to have seen the song live, in retrospect that performance of St. Stephen (as well as the two subsequent performances in 1983) was pretty much a train wreck.

I think St. Stephen was truly at its best during the early years. The renditions during 1976-1979 are so completely different from 1968-1970 and 1971 that it's pretty much a completely different song.

In my opinion, the early 1969 Stephens were the very best. Garcia's baroque style during this period suited the song perfectly and I don't think the song was ever as emotive or more beautiful than during 1969. Some of the quiet passages are breathtaking during this period. Its placement in between Dark Star and The Eleven was the perfect spot. And the renditions that include the William Tell Bridge of The Eleven are the very best. It's so hard to pick a best version from this period there are so many excellent performances of the song. 2/28/69 (the Live Dead performance) and 3/1/69 are likely candidates, but 4/5/69 might be my favorite from 1969...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-04-05.sbd.miller.18701.sbesok.shnf

In 1970 the band started to rock-out the song a bit more and its placement became varied. The set opener at Harpur College is a great performance, but I don't know if the song worked any better than performed with NFA during this year. 9/19/70 is a classic performance of this medley, and this St. Stephen is also a candidate for best ever. I really like the performance of this pair at the M.I.T. free show in May. The transition into NFA is very cool...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1970-05-06.sbd.gans-hall.95.shnf

I also enjoy the primative St. Stephens from 1968. The song suited the bare wires high energy intensity of the playing that year quite well. 10/12/68 is a fantastic hard driving performance of St. Stephen, but perhaps no other rendition from '68 can eclipse the rip your face off performance from 6/14/68 (third ever performance?)...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd68-06-14.aud.cotsman.16532.sbeok.shnf

Personally, I think St. Stephen is already past its prime during 1971, but still there are are some compelling performances. 4/28/71 and 10/31/71 are a couple greats, as is the performance at the Boston Music Hall on 4/8/71...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1971-04-08.sbd.deibert.83756.sbeok.flac16

Since I dont care much for the song during 1976-1979 and 1983, I'm going to let you all continue with this post.

What are your thoughts and reflections about this very important song in the band's catalogue? And what are your favorite renditions of St. Stephen during any of the years that the song was performed?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Dec 2, 2010 8:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Only time I saw it was 12/30/78 at UCLA . Since I no access to tapes, at the time, I wasn;t prepared for the "mellow" SS , I was expecting the 'Live Dead' version, so I was actually a little disappointed ! I have since grown to like this arrangement , and it always makes a show better in its "comeback" period .
On whole, I agree with your assessments .
Great post .

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Death&Mercy Date: Dec 1, 2010 5:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

I saw the first two 83 versions and they helped make that a great week, probably the funnest of my touring days. The music doesn't sound so great now, but I still enjoy much of the stuff, and think the 10/11 St Steve is a good version.

As for the best renditions, 4 stand out for me: 11/08/69, 06/24/70, 10/31/71, and 01/22/78, mostly due to Jerry's work in the middle. I'd probably call the 79 version my favorite as the raunchy intro blows me away every time. Don't like most of the 1976 and 1977 St Steves, though the outro got pretty cool in fall 77. The one from the Dec 77 DP is good, from start to finish.



eeeee .... the 78 version is my favorite. 1/22/78.

This post was modified by Death&Mercy on 2010-12-02 01:18:53

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: stratocaster Date: Dec 1, 2010 7:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

i'll be the devil's advocate for the 83 versions. I wouldn't call them a "trainwreck", maybe a tad rough around the edges, it was played with energy, the 10-15 version has a nice closing jam actually, they sound like they're getting into it, but will Garcia ever play the opening fuckin' notes right? he blows it a bunch in 77 as well...jeez...at the end of the day, it's still not like the 85 Crypticals, those were like a drunk fat chick trying to fit into a miniskirt...just brutal

now back to the reality of St. Stephen in that it peaked twice, once, for about 2 years, late 68 to 70, my favorite maybe 09-19-1970, love 03-01-69...then again in early 76, when they nailed the "dreamy" version, i.e. 06-11-1976

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Dec 1, 2010 8:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

I agree. I like 10/31/83, too -- the whole show, actually. Obviously the 83s don't hold a candle to the earlier ones (duh), but yeah, they don't seem to have the same issues as the 85 Crypticals. IMUO. (In My Uneducated Opinion.)

Love all these links. Though I've gotta say, that's the problem with this forum ... I keep getting a longer and longer list of things I absolutely HAVE to hear!!!

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2010-12-02 04:55:36

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Dec 2, 2010 4:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

That's the problem, I can never catch up (and hold down a job at the same time, that is).

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Dec 2, 2010 7:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

You two should just take an hour to listen to the following StSt's to get a full flavorful sense of the issue at hand:

6-14-68 (this is THE most jammed out StSt you'll EVER hear)
10-12-68
12-29-68
4-5-69
9-19-70 (strat's right; and when he's right, he's right)
8-6-71

You already know the train wrecks and near trainwrecks, and dreamy (for some) slow tempo ones post 75, so just go to these early era ones for a sampler of what dramatic changes transpired in such a short, relatively, 3 yr period.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Dec 2, 2010 7:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

LOL, ok, I'm going to cancel my 11:00 appointment and tell my client that I need the hour to review five important early-era Saint Stephens, and I'll be happy to talk to him about his important research after I've settled the important Saint Stephen matter.
(joke)

But seriously, it's always the forcefulness and passion of they key opinion leaders (KOLs) around here that determine my Grateful Dead listening agenda. I will indeed do this assignment as soon as I can, William Tell.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Dec 2, 2010 1:03pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Hmmm, a new moniker: "kol"...not bad. Sorta like a cooler version of kool. Although it does come close to reminding one of "troll".

;)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Dec 2, 2010 3:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

It's actually a pharmaceutical industry term.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Dec 2, 2010 2:42pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Huh?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Dec 2, 2010 9:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

I have to agree Strat. The '83 StS's may have been a great time , but do not hold up well . For me those after '70 don't hold up well ( I'm sure there is a '71 or '76 exception ).

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Mandojammer Date: Dec 2, 2010 7:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

A couple of years ago I went through confirmation classes - I grew up Lutheran, married a Catholic and have been going to Mass since 1983 - so I suppose it was inevitable that I went through the classes. I digress........

You should have seen the look on my sponsor's face when I told him my choice for my confirmation name and patron saint.

Yup, Saint Stephen. I figured anyone whos last act was to pray for the forgiveness of those who were about to kill him was a pretty good choice.

And given the dragons I periodically fight in my own life, I also added Saint George.

I have even managed to sneak a few bars of SS into the Mass every now and then when I play guitar with the contemporary choir - it's mostly high school kids, and they jump right in not knowing what the music is, other than it sounds pretty good.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Dec 2, 2010 8:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Subversive dhead .
Damn , you get dragons ! I only get myself in vulgar colors . Maybe I should look into becoming a C. again .

As a side note , when I received Confirmation I choose Damien as my C. name . You know , Damien of Molokai . Boy , were Ma & Pa pissed .

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Dec 2, 2010 7:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Makes me want to go to Mass at your church...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Diamondhead Date: Dec 1, 2010 8:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

So I'm really bad on details. I just read that they stopped playing StS in 1983. Why, and why did they never revive it again? Anyone know any bedtime stories?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 1, 2010 9:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Garcia said in '88:
"We used it up... It's got little idiosyncracies and verses that are different from each other...it's unnecessarily difficult. It's been made tricky. It's got a bridge in the middle that doesn't really fit in... It has a couple of things that work real good, but finally, the stuff that doesn't work overpowers the stuff that does work... If you don't remember every bit of it: 'Let's see, what verse is this?' They're not interchangeable - you have to do them in order. So a song like St Stephen is a cop. It's our musical policeman: if we don't do it the way it wants to go, it doesn't work at all. That means it's inflexible.
"When you get good enough at those kinds of pieces, people think, 'Wow, that's really far out and open,' but that's an illusion. It's just written complicated - what we need is material that is authentically open."

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: hasher Date: Dec 1, 2010 10:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Very cool! Another great post LiA!

Thinking back to how many times I've heard the song messed up a bit(wrong vocal timing, bridge timing, etc.), what Garcia said makes a lot of sense. I think St.Stephen and other songs like it(the eleven) that are "tricky" were better suited for the band in their early period when they were constantly practicing and listening to their shows. It speaks to why certain songs were dropped and how the band was reluctant to bust them out when called for in later years.

Like most people I'm a big fan of the early St. Stephens. Those blisteringly rocking versions when the band was really on. Nothing quite tops the Live/Dead version to me but listening to the new RTs, the version from 5/23/69 really comes close.

One version that has always fascinated me is the one from 1/22/78. That D to G ? Jam they do that builds and builds until the sky(or basketball gym) opens and a giant lightning bolt reigns down and steals everyones face before they drop back into the final verse. Yeah you know what I'm talking about. That one.
Where did it come from? I haven't heard too many other versions from the time period and I know they'd been toying with that crescendo jam as far back as late 69? 70? but it never fully developed into that miraculous, soul lifting, glorious orchestral piece of heaven it did on that night before disappearing never to be seen or heard again as far as I know. Where did it go?
It's moments like that that have kept me listening year after year. Searching for the sound.


It's a little too late at night for me to have attempted a post like this. If it were morning and I were drinking coffee I might have been able to convey what Im trying to describe a bit better. Maybe. So please forgive my drowsy dribbling ramblings. Hopefully, you caught my drift.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Rueben Finklestein Date: Dec 2, 2010 12:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Interesting comments! I have to say, I haven't cared much for St. Stephen for a number of years; shifting concerns and enjoyment. However, just this morning I was listening to a 1977 show and it hit me what a great song it is and I want to hear more! Does anyone remember that hilarious skit on Saturday Night Live, about 1979-80 when now-Senator Franken asks Brent Mydland how to play St. Stephen and he can't figure out the first note??

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Dec 2, 2010 10:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oBwGzGlTlY

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 3, 2010 7:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Love this skit. December '80, Brent admits he just can't learn St Stephen... But Al Franken asks him to play it anyway.
Brent is incredulous, and asks, “Wouldn’t you rather hear Far From Me or Easy to Love You?”
“Well, we haven’t really heard St Stephen for a while…”
“That’s ‘cause I can’t play it!”
“Why don’t you give it a shot for us?”
“You asked for it…”
Brent then can't figure out the riff! (Much like Garcia in real life...)

It's great to see the band poke merciless fun at themselves like this.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Rueben Finklestein Date: Dec 2, 2010 12:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Ah yes, I forgot the magic of You Tube! I should have asked my kids...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Dec 2, 2010 4:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

definitely caught your drift, running off to listen to 1/22/78

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Dec 2, 2010 1:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Wait a minute! You have some homework to complete first young lady!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Dec 2, 2010 3:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Yikes! Back to Saint Stephen soon, I promise. will there be a test?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Finster Baby Date: Dec 2, 2010 5:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Very interesting LiA.....
Had not seen those comments before.

It does make me wonder if those sentiments were shared by the rest of the band....

It seems that the post Jerry lineups have resurrected the tune(with great frequency) so I wonder if Jerry was the only one that felt the tune was used up.

Or do the latter bands play it only because they know that people want to hear it? I would say they probably resurrected it because Phil et. al. feel that there is still more ground there to be explored.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Diamondhead Date: Dec 2, 2010 10:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Thanks LiA. Really interesting. And I can believe it.

But, where does that leave Victim or Crime in the general scheme of things? :)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Dec 2, 2010 11:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Lying by the side of the road in a pile of it's own excrement.


Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Dec 1, 2010 6:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

I wore myself out previously, but here are the threads we went thru, at least the first three, FYI, for newbies, etc:

http://www.archive.org/post/269527/tempo

http://www.archive.org/post/238697/st-stephen-poll

http://www.archive.org/post/216197/a-dead-topic-68-st-stephens

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Dec 1, 2010 6:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Thanks, Cliff.
If I ever get finished with that long list of Althea's from the other day, I'll start on these ...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Dec 1, 2010 3:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

I must add ,

http://www.archive.org/details/gd_nrps70-06-24.aud.pcrp5.23062.sbeok.flacf

As the last of three D/S ends you can feel the StS begin to build . The excitement of the crowd and the band lifts even more .
" At 2:58 At the end of the third Dark Star, as we can hear St. Steven coming through the mix,
Some ecstatic fan can be heard having his face stolen:

"YEAH, YEAH, OH NO!"

At 3:54 while they sing "One man gathers what another man spills" a perfectly timed
huge fireball starts the drummers off precisely." K.Lee

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Finster Baby Date: Dec 2, 2010 5:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

Cliff

Sounds like a pretty fond memory you have of that MSG show.
Can we presume this to be at least one post '79 show where you don't look back and feel like you wasted your money??

This post was modified by Finster Baby on 2010-12-02 13:50:53

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Dec 2, 2010 5:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: St. Stephen?

No, that MSG show pretty much sucked!

However I do have somewhat fonder memories of 5/16/81

Terms of Use (10 Mar 2001)